HE Can Returns for a Second Year

Thursday 21st March 2019

Sixty South Yorkshire boys have embarked on the second HeppSY+ HE Can initiative, aimed at increasing their confidence, resilience and understanding of higher education opportunities.

The HE Can 2019 candidates were welcomed to Sheffield Hallam University for this year’ launch, led by Emma Nicholls, the HeppSY+ Schools Programme Manager. The teenagers and their parents came from across the region on the evening of Wednesday 13th March to hear about the exciting things that the boys would be getting involved in throughout the year.

There are over 37,000 more girls that boys in higher education. The HE Can project is aimed at targeting young men who have the potential to achieve but are most at risk of missing out. Over the course of the programme the students involved will learn more about higher education. They will experience visiting universities, engage with positive role models, and make new friends. The programme is funded and run by HeppSY+. HE Can is just one example of projects happening in schools to engage students with higher education pathways.

Emma started the launch by introducing herself and talking about her own experience of higher education. As the first person in her family to go to university, she was initially very worried but spoke about how she benefitted from her course, got valuable work experience and learnt life skills such as cooking.

Photos of last year’s group showed what the boys could be doing. University trips, team building games, and higher education events were just a snippet. Emma believed all the boys that took part grew in confidence and developed their motivation for higher education.

This year, the students will be involved in activities at six higher education institutes, with the addition of a workplace visit which wasn’t included last year. Between the visits, the boys will have opportunities in school to reflect on their experiences, as well as a 1-to-1 careers advice interview.

The benefits of the HE Can programme Emma outlined were considerable. From experiencing the world of work and higher education, gaining new skills and standing out in applications, to increasing social and teambuilding skills – making friends for life – there was something to motivate all the students. The end result of taking part in the programme is the improved chance of going to college, sixth form, or university.

Commenting on the programme, Jacob, one of the boys selected for this year’s programme, said: “Being out of school, looking at universities and meeting new people. Also making friends and gaining more confidence. I’m looking forward to the experience, especially visiting Liverpool. I hope to get more confidence overall.”

Jacob’s brother, Owain was part of last year’s programme. Jacob said: “Owain was really happy. He made lots of new friends and said it was fun.”

The HE Can survey results from last year showed that the programme dramatically affects opinions on higher education; the students were more likely to progress into higher education, more confident, and had an increased knowledge of their options.